La Monte Young
Just Charles & Cello in The Romantic Chord*
a setting of
Quadrilateral Phase Angle Traversals
Charles Curtis, cello, pre-recorded cello drones
Charles Curtis, cello
production & video projection programming:
under the direction of Marian Zazeela
processing and audio production:
Centre de Création Musicale Iannis Xenakis
Centre de Création Musicale Iannis Xenakis, Paris
Festival Nouvelles Scènes/Le Consortium, Dijon
Festival «Musiques en scène»/le GRAME, Lyon
Festival «Maerzmusik»/Berliner Festspiele, Berlin
26 and Saturday, 29 November 2003, 7 pm
Musicologist Daniel Caux will lecture before the concert on 26 November
Théâtre du Parvis Saint Jean
rue Danton, 21000 Dijon
new collaborative work by La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela for
cello and light design will be given its world premiere in Paris in
November and in Dijon in December.
The evening-long work, entitled Just Charles & Cello in
The Romantic Chord in a setting of Abstract #1 from Quadrilateral
Phase Angle Traversals with Dream Light, is composed for
Charles Curtis, cello, pre-recorded cello drones and light design.
It will be performed by Curtis on November 26 and 29
Theatre Moliere-Maison de la Poésie, 157 rue Saint-Martin, 75003 Paris
at 7 pm, presented by the Centre for Création Musicale Iannis Xanakis (CCMIX).
Musicologist Daniel Caux will give a lecture preceding the
performance on the 26th.
magenta and blue light design includes the projection of a calligraphic
drawing programmed to gradually metamorphose
in quadrilateral symmetry over the duration of the musical work.
Much of Zazeela’s work in light and calligraphy has been
grounded in concepts of structural symmetry.
Abstract #1 from Quadrilateral Phase Angle Traversals
is based on her Word Portraits series of drawings and neon
sculptures in which she has presented names, words or ideas drawn with
their bilaterally symmetrical, retrograde and mirror-inverted images, so
that the abstract form of the written word may be viewed independently
from its meaning. This
allows the visual content of the work to be considered both apart from,
and along with, the significance of the word.
In Abstract #1, Zazeela turned this concept inside-out and
created a pattern that is derived from and evocative of letter forms,
but which does not generate known words.
The projection becomes a mandala-like visual focus interweaving
through time with the performance of the musical work.
Uli Schaegger programmed the movement of the video projection and
will oversee Zazeela’s lighting installations in Paris, Dijon and
with Young’s new works for his Just Alap Raga Ensemble, Just
Charles & Cello in The Romantic Chord represents his most recent
composition. Composed in
Just Intonation, which Young defines as “that system of tuning in
which every frequency is related to every other frequency as the
numerator or denominator of some whole number fraction,” Just
Charles & Cello in The Romantic Chord is set in the
Dorian mode. From the early
‘60s, the Dorian mode has been one of Young’s tonal resources,
providing the basis for Young’s Dorian Blues in G, which
eventually became the singular work performed by his Forever Bad Blues
Band, and for The Romantic Chord, one of the major sections of his
magnum opus, The Well-Tuned Piano.
the traditional tunings of the Dorian scale in just intonation are
factorable by the primes 5, 3 and 2, Young’s tunings are unique in
that the tuning for Young’s Dorian Blues in G is factorable by
the primes 7, 5, 3 and 2, and the tuning for The Romantic Chord is
factorable by 7, 3 and 2. As
the title suggests, Just Charles & Cello in The Romantic Chord
is based on the tuning of The Romantic Chord from The Well-Tuned
Piano. Also in G, the
Dorian mode of The Romantic Chord is based on the ascending Pythagorean
series, C, G, D, A, E, with B-flat (the 3rd degree) and F (the 7th
degree) derived septimally. The
C, G, D and A are all open strings on the cello, the Pythagorean E
exists as a natural harmonic on both the D and A strings, and the B-flat
and F exist as natural harmonics on the C and G strings respectively.
This congruence of pitches and strings delineates an inextricably
inherent relationship between the tuning of the mode and the instrument.
The new work was composed specifically for Charles Curtis, who has studied the performance technique with Young in the guru-disciple method of oral transmission over a period of years. The work is not intended to be played by other cellists unless they study it with Young in the same way. Curtis is perhaps the foremost performer of Young’s music in the world today. He began to work with Young in 1987 when he performed in the Trio for Strings at the MELA 30-Year Retrospective Festival in New York. Acknowledged internationally as a performer of new and experimental music, Curtis became director of Young’s Theatre of Eternal Music String Ensemble. He has participated in more performances and premieres of Young's works than any other interpreter, including major performances at the Barbican Centre in London, the Darmstadt Festival, the Dia Art Foundation, New York, the Inventionen Festival, Berlin, the Cathedral of Dreams Festival, Krems, Austria, the Beyond the Pink Festival, Los Angeles, the Schleswig Holstein Music Festival, leading the Ensemble Modern strings for the Hessischer Rundfunk in Frankfurt, and with the Belgian ensemble Ictus in the Brugge 2002 Festival.
is one of the few instrumentalists to have perfected Young's highly
complex just intonation tunings, and is one of only a handful of
musicians to have appeared in duo formations with Young, performing
works by early minimalists Richard Maxfield and Terry Jennings.
In 1989, Curtis began learning the Kirana style of Indian
classical music from Young through their performances together of the
Terry Jennings Piece for Cello
and Saxophone. Curtis
became a member of Young’s Just Alap Raga
Ensemble in summer 2003 and performed with the group at the Ustad
Hafizullah Khan Memorial concert and the Pandit Pran Nath 85th Birthday
Tribute concert in the Church Street Dream House.
Zazeela is one of the first contemporary artists to use light as a
medium of expression. As
artistic director of The Theatre of Eternal Music, she has created the
works that form the visual components of Dream
House, a sound and light work in which she has collaborated with
La Monte Young since the early ‘60s.
1966, Young and Zazeela pioneered the concept of the continuous sound
and light environment, and have since presented large-scale sound and
light productions in museums and galleries worldwide for continuous
periods from one week to one hundred days, including installations in
the Metropolitan Museum, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; documenta
5, Kassel; Kunstverein, Cologne. Under
a long-term commission from the Dia Art Foundation (1979-85), Zazeela
and Young collaborated in a six-year continuous Dream
House presentation set in a six-story building on Harrison Street in
New York City, featuring multiple interrelated sound and light
environments, exhibitions, performances, research and listening
facilities, and archives. MELA
House: Seven+Eight Years of Sound and Light, now in its
eleventh year, is Young and Zazeela's longest continuous installation to
French Cultural Ministry National Foundation of Contemporary Art (FNAC)
purchased Young and Zazeela's 1990 Donguy Gallery, Paris exhibition for
their permanent collection. It
was exhibited from February-April 1999 at the Lyon Museum of
Contemporary Art. For La
Beauté international exhibition in Avignon celebrating the Year 2000,
Young and Zazeela created a four-month Dream
House in St. Joseph Chapel. The
installation featured the world premiere of the continuous DVD
projection of the 1987 six-hour 24-minute performance of their
collaborative masterwork, The
Well-Tuned Piano in The Magenta Lights, in a site-specific light
environment by Zazeela.
Charles & Cello in The Romantic Chord in
a setting of Abstract #1 from Quadrilateral Phase Angle
Traversals with Dream Light was created under a commission
from a consortium of the CCMIX and three other European organizations:
Nouvelles Scenes/Le Consortium, Dijon; Musiques en Scene/Le Grame,
Lyon; and MaerzMusik/Berliner Festspiele, Berlin.
The commission was initiated by the CCMIX and its director,
Utilizing pre-recorded cello samples played by Charles Curtis, the CCMIX has realized a live computer part to facilitate real time manipulation of the cello drones. This program was written by Stefan Tiedje, musical assistant of the CCMIX, under the direction of La Monte Young and Charles Curtis, who was in residency at the CCMIX for the realization of the program. The CCMIX is responsible for the sound production of the work for all of the world premiere performances in Europe, including the Paris concerts, the performance in Dijon on December 5 at Theatre du Parvis Saint Jean, in Lyon on March 17, 2004 at Les Subsistances, and in Berlin on March 21, 2004, at a venue to be announced.
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